Restrictions on wine shipments should be removed, says Fedex Canada

An official with the FedEx courier company says it's time that province remove all restrictions on wine shipments, describing them as unconstitutional trade barriers.

Official with courier company says trade barrier is unconstitutional

FedEx Canada is lobbying to have restrictions preventing the inter-provincial shipments of wine lifted. (CBC)

An official with the FedEx courier company says it's time that provinces, including Newfoundland and Labrador, remove all restrictions on wine shipments.

Adrian Grundy, manager of corporate communications with FedEx Express in Canada, described such restriction as unconstitutional trade barriers. 

"What they are doing is imposing a trade barrier. This is denying consumers access to the broader Canadian wine market. It's a denial that we argue is unconstitutional because it does impede the free flow of trade between provinces," said Grundy.

He said other provinces should follow the example set by British Columbia and Nova Scotia, where restrictions have been lifted.

The issue of inter-provincial wine shipments made headlines last week after a Crown prosecutor in Newfoundland and Labrador dropped a charge against FedEx for carrying a private shipment of wine into the province.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. laid the charge two years ago after the company shipped wine from British Columbia.

FedEx described the charges as a sting operation by the NLC designed to protect its monopoly over the imports of Canadian wine.

Provincial regulations in Newfoundland and Labrador prohibit the private shipment of wines into the province. (Getty Images/Purestock)

According to provincial regulations, such shipments are illegal, and must be processed through the liquor corporation.

Couriers, however, are exempt from federal restrictions on inter-provincial liquor shipments, and Crown prosecutor Sheldon Steeves admitted there was no case and withdrew the charge.

FedEx has asked that the Crown corporation pay its legal costs, amounting to some $155,000.

A judge is expected to rule on that in the future.

'We are one country'

Grundy said it's absurd that he can ship a Victorian shiraz from Australia to Toronto, but he can't source a wine from the Okanagan Valley in B.C. without fearing prosecution.

Grundy said this issue is not restricted to Newfoundland and Labrador, and argues that "sending wines across provincial lines should not be unlawful."

"This should be a way of life in Canada. We are one country. We have a constitution that allows the free flow of trade. And all consumers should have access to the broader Canadian wine market."

Grundy said it's hard to say how much of a market there is for wine shipments, since requests are rare.

"Consumers don't want to have the prospect of fines or prosecution hanging over their head just for ordering a bottle of wine," he said.

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